Tennessee Senate Passes Sentence Reduction Bill for First-Degree Murder


Reduced sentencing for first-degree murder passed the Tennessee Senate on Thursday. The bill as adopted by the Senate would allow life imprisonment sentences for first-degree murder to obtain release eligibility after serving 60 percent of 60 years less sentence credits earned, or 36 years which can be reduced to 25 years with sentencing credits. Although parole would be an option at that point, it wouldn’t be guaranteed. The two other options for first-degree murder sentencing – the death penalty or life without possibility of parole – would remain unchanged under the bill.

A few types of criminals wouldn’t benefit from the proposed bill. Those serving life imprisonment without parole for aggravated rape of a child. Originally the bill excluded those who committed first-degree murder of a child, but an amendment to the bill dropped that provision. State Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixon) said that these changes weren’t “substantive” during the floor vote.

The bill received bipartisan support, with only four senators voting against it and one abstaining their vote. State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro), and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) voted no – State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) abstained his vote.

State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) sponsored the bill. She explained that Tennessee is now the only state currently maintaining the Clinton-era “Biden Crime Bill” sentencing structure of 1995 implemented by then-Senator, now President Joe Biden. Mississippi dropped their Biden Crime Bill structure last month.

As a result of the Biden Crime Bill, Tennessee eliminated their structure of life with parole possibility at 25 years served. Bowling claimed that this change doubled sentencing, because it required offenders serve 51 years before implementing sentence reduction credits. She explained that her bill would simply strike down law based on the Biden Crime Bill and return Tennessee to the 1989 Criminal Sentencing Reform Act.

She added that other states followed Tennessee’s lead because of federal funds that offset the increased incarceration costs. Bowling explained that the funding ceased after a decade, and the increased incarceration has cost Tennessee greatly. She pointed out that increased incarceration rates hasn’t reduced criminal activity.

“There was no statistical change [in the reduction of violent crimes],” said Bowling.

State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) explained why he supported this bill: providing hope for criminals. He compared those facing life imprisonment for murder to the trials faced by the sinless Biblical figure, Job.

Roberts said that individuals can’t live “as God intended [them]” without hope, and that incarcerating individuals for life does just that.

Fiscal impact analyses projected an overall decrease in state expenditures averaging nearly $2.5 million in savings. For the first fiscal year, the incarceration savings would total a little over $1.2 million.

The bill now awaits assignment in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].





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10 Thoughts to “Tennessee Senate Passes Sentence Reduction Bill for First-Degree Murder”

  1. DNFU

    When you stop punishing crime you get more criminals.

    Why can’t politicians not understand this basic concept?

    I hate to think what is coming next from these (insert profanity here) politicians who seem to WANT to destroy America.

  2. Josie Wales

    Perhaps someone should have asked the murdered person’s family how they feel about reduced sentencing.

  3. James Williams

    Good work!people deserve 2nd chances and 25 years is long enough to be encapted in slavery BC that’s exactly what throwing someone away for life actually is!!

    1. Pam

      If you can’t do the time DON’T do the crime. We can send them to your house and let them live with your family, if you have one.

    2. Wendy Polk

      That would be why they call it a “PUNISHMENT”!

  4. Jay

    Oh my the murderer has no hope. How much hope does the murdered guy have? Morons all.

  5. Kevin

    This kind of legislation might make a few people “feel good” but what exactly does it solve?

    What have “we”, not the government, but society, done to fix the root cause of why people think that it is OK to murder other people? This recent incident where a cop had to shoot a girl who was attacking another girl with a knife, tells me that nothing has changed! The list of “things” that need to be fixed is way too long for me to answer, but maybe just maybe, in some small way, our “success”, our “affluence” is what has directly led to our demise.

    When everybody gets a trophy, nobody gets a trophy. When you think you have everything, you really have nothing. When nobody gets “spanked”, everybody gets “spanked!”

  6. LM

    So let’s just turn murderers back out on the public because it’s cheaper? Really?

    1. Wolf Woman

      What LM said.

  7. Some Dude

    Ah, the ole’ soft on crime approach. I wonder why they think this will work, THIS time, since soft-on-crime approach has never succeeded before. Oh, well, Tennessee is quickly turning Democrat; it was inevitable, with Nashville and Memphis happily being fake woke.

    Tennessee is down the path if The Leftist ways. That destination will be terrible. Imagine this state as bad as Baltimore, or New York City. Oh, well… It was good while it lasted?

    If we do not change the voting in this state and COUNTRY, it is finished. All of it. Eventually, even the USA will split/die, due to all this Leftist Thirdworldification.